I previously though that going into this part of the last frontier of the country we all know as Palawan would be really expensive. But I learned that with a bit of haggling, looking around and being with other thrifty companions while in El Nido can really stretch your budget. In the 5 days and 4 nights, with two days of Island hopping, 1 day of inland tours and sampling some of the good food of El Nido, I only spent P6082 (US$132) (excluding transport to El Nido from Manila). Read on for the details.
It was an unexpected but a welcome surprise when I found out that Acer would be bringing us to Bohol for their annual Acer Media Challenge with this year’s theme “Survival of the Explorers“. Funny thing is, when we got there I’ll be going back the next day at the same resort where we were staying for a project after the Acer event. Call it coincidence or whatnot because Acer has been tight lip about the destination until the day itself. While it would have been convenient if I had known so I didn’t have to go back to Manila and get my gears, I didn’t mind. Besides it’s good to stock up on some miles.
It’s been taunting me ever since we came to El Nido. Those towering cliffs and jagged peaks keep calling me, daring me to tread its trail, conquer its peak and discover what’s up there. We already inquired at one of the tour operators there first time we came here about climbing those cliff. There’s a 300 pesos guide fee per person with a minimum of two persons quota that I thought was expensive. And on our last day I got a good deal and the guide would accompany me to the peaks even on my own.
“We can’t make it to Snake Island”, our boatman who doubles as our guide, Charlie informed us. It was already late mid afternoon and Snake Island is far down south of Bacuit Bay. We were also told that we needed to refill our fuel soon lest we got stuck in the middle of the bay. We headed to an island they called Helicopter Island, said to be named after its shape. But it looks a lot more like a whale to me.
Making our way back at the central channel of Taiputan-Matinloc Islands we docked on a beach where Matinloc Shrine is located. Shielded by walls of limestone, It’s a charming place that I felt it’s like a small piece of Greece with its architecture. There’s also a large platform facing the beach on the opposite island. Standing there gave us a surreal panorama of the aquamarine waters and limestone cliffs in every direction or angle.
The groove to go Island Hopping is back on our fourth day in El Nido. We’re going again with Islanen Outdoors Tours since they have a very good slightly customized package and price (of P650) on Tour C which includes several sites in Matinloc Island and few stops on our way back. We had to wait a few minutes before they got everything ready. We had a smaller white boat this time highlighted by MMDA colors of pink and blue but it seems real solid and capable to handle the seas.
That little stint up at Pasadeña to see the Makinit Hotspring and Nagkalit-kalit Falls was partially a sad discovery. The hike was a welcome activity but I’m really concerned on how El Niño has affected our environment. It’s a wake-up call to everyone that the threat is real. We may not be feeling it outright inside our doorsteps in the suburbs but it’s happening out in the wilderness. And it’s not an exception for a place we call “The Last Frontier” in the Philippines.